Photos of Exotic and Indigenous Fruits and Vegetables

Most large towns have grocery stores similar to what you would you find in the United States. But the markets are much more fun for shopping usually offering fresher foods at cheaper prices. Oaxacan markets are loaded with indigenous and exotic fruits, vegetables, cheeses and meats. Using photos I hope to show what is available. While researching this topic, I rediscovered zapote chico and my new favorite fruit, mamey. I keep hoping to find, again, the elusive fruit called pepino, I guess once is all I will get.

Many of images contain a spoon or fork for size comparison. Most of the photos are from the Puerto Escondido market. All the photos are from the markets of Oaxaca.

Introductionary Photos

Puerto Escondido market stall Street venders

Market stall in Puerto Escondido.

Vendors outside of the market. Most weekends the overflow of vendors ends up on the sidewalks.

Bread Photos

Breads Breads

Above. Breads of Zaachila, and what a large selection they have.

Fruit and Vegetable Photos


Mamey Zapote Negra

Left. Mamey, a common type of zapote, is about 10 to 25 cm (4 to 10 inches) long and 8 to 12 cm (3 to 5 inches) wide. The texture similar to cantaloupe on the outside and the texture of papaya on the inside. When Mamey is ripe, it will feel like a ripe avocado, a bit soft in a few places. Mameys are sweet and taste somewhat like sweet potato and pumpkin. Mamey is eaten raw or made into milkshakes, smoothies or ice cream. Mamey can also be used to make marmalade and jelly. The skin and seed are not eaten.

Right. Zapote Negra are the size of an apple. When they are a bit mushy, they are ready to eat. It tastes like a baked apple.

Huaje or Guaje

Huajepods Huaje

The state of Oaxaca's name is derived from huaje, sometimes spelled as guaje.

Left. Huaje pods hanging on the tree with a mango tree in the background.

Right. Raw huaje seeds taste like peas, roasted ones taste like pine nuts. Salted huaje seeds are eaten as a snack. Huaje seeds are also used in moles.


Nanche Display

Nanche can be eaten raw, cooked as a dessert and can be used to flavor mezcal. The above picture has a bowl of fresh yellow nanche. Nanche tastes like butterscotch, inside the fruit there is a small seed about twice the size of lime seed, its not meant to be eaten.

In the jar and on plate below the ripe nanches are brownish Nanches Curados. Nanche curado is made from nanche that has been soaked in alcohol and panela (brown sugar) for seven months to a year. The panela causes the fruit to change color and helps reduce the sour taste caused by the alcohol.


Tortiillas and Nopals on a grill Nopal cleaning

Left. Tortillas and Nopal pads being grilled.

Right. Spines being removed from the nopal pad.


Nopal pads can be grilled over a flame or stove. Often the pads are sliced as the ones are above and then boiled to be used in different dishes such as and egg and nopal tacos or a side dish as above. Boiled nopales taste similar to green beans and are bit slimy like okra. Locals believe eating nopales purifies the blood, lowers cholesterol, helps treat type 2 diabetes and lowers blood pressure.

Nopal Fruit red and green cactus pear fruit

Left. Chiconostle are used to help folks lose weight.

Right. Nopal fruit with a little sugar tastes a lot like raspberry. Be careful not to eat any of the spines on the outside of the fruit.

Nopal de Cruz Dragon Fruit

Nopal de Cruz, also known as Nopal Crucetas and Nopal Estrella, is prepared the same way as nopal pods.

Colorful Dragon Fruit looks to pretty to eat. It taste similar to cactus pear fruit. Do not eat the skin.


Banana Display

Bananas originate from Southeast Asia. There are over 70 varieties of bananas and not all of them are edible. Cavendish bananas are what you typically find in grocery stores in America and Europe.

Platano Morado Platano Manzana

Left. Red bananas are sweeter and plumper than the cavendish bananas. They are available in April or May but can be found at others times.

Right. These small bananas are sweet and have an apple flavor..

Platano Macho Platano Pera

Left. Plantains must be cooked before eaten. Fried, they make a great desert with a bit of sweetened cream. These plantains are called platano macho for their resemblance to the male sexual organ.

Right. These somewhat triangular sweet bananas are almost as long as platano macho but they are thicker.


Mango Display

Mangoes are originally from South Asia. There over 400 varieties of Mangoes!

Mango Chico Golden Mangoes

Left. Mangos Chicos are the smallest mangoes available in our market, hardly worth the effort of cleaning to eat.

Right. Golden Mangoes.

And More

Rambutan Starfruit

Left. Rambutan originates from Southeast Asia and now prospers throughout Central America.

Right. Starfruit or carambola, originates from Southeast Asia and now prospers throughout Central America.

Different size avocado

There are many types of avocados. These are available in our market. The medium sized ones are my favorite. Those red things on the bottom are tomatoes.


Jinicuil. The pods are about a foot long (30 cm). The white sweet fruit surrounds the seed. Don't eat the seed.

Annona Fruit Cuitlacoche/Huitlacoche

Left. There are many varieties of Annona. This one has a consistency of custard and has a tangy fruity flavor. The seeds are not to be eaten.

Right. Corn smut, sometimes called Mexican truffle cuitlacoche. Got to admit, it looks like ugly and when it is cooked it looks like lumpy poop. But it is one of my favorite foods. It is great filling for an omelette or for inside of a tortilla. Sometimes I use it in an untraditional way, as a gravy. Huitlacoche and cuitlacoche are the same thing, just different spellings.

Flor de Cuatecos

Flor de Cuatecos is the heart of a flowering palm. It can be bought raw or cooked; the flor de cuatecos in the picture has been cooked. After removing the husk, the edible part is about the size of an index finger. Its texture is similar to avocado and has flavor kind of like asparagus with a bit of a bitter after taste. It is eaten as a snack.

Míperos Tejocote

Left. Mísperos are about the size of grapes and taste like them too, just a bit stronger flavor. The fruit is often placed on Day of the Dead alters. The seeds are toxic.

Right. Tejocote or Manzanito. There are over a dozen types of this plant through out the Americas. They are used in piñatas and in punches.


Icacos. Icacos fruit are slightly sweet with little flavor. Don't eat the seed.

Fava Beans Granada China

Left. Fava beans are used for soups. Sometimes they are served as a snack, much like salted peanuts.

Right. Granada or Granada de China tastes a lot like an orange. Its one of my favorite fruits.

Flor de Calabaza Flor de Maguay

Left. Flor de Calabaza is prepared in a variety of ways, my favorite is when it is used as a filling for a taco.

Right. Flor de Maguay is prepared similarly to flor de calabaza.

Tamarind Pepino

Left. Tamarind fruit. The bottom right of the image is a bag of tamarind with the fruit skin and most of the seeds removed; sugar and chili added. Above the bag, is some of the tamarind removed from the bag. Tamarind is used in a flavored fruit drink throughout Mexico, in some types of candies and in Oaxaca it is also used in some moles.

Right. Pepino is the size of a nerf football to football size. You can eat the skin and the pulp. The seeds are not meant to be eaten. Pepino taste like a cross between a pear and an apple. Pepino is also the Spanish word for cucumber.

Guava Ginger and Turmeric

Left. Guava. I throw six of these sweet fruit into a blender with a bit of honey for a great fruit drink.

Right. Ginger and turmeric.

Hierba Mora

Solanum nigrum or Hierba Mora. Its often used in soups. I cook it like spinach and add some balsamic vinegar. At the top of the photo there are a few tomatoes and habenero chiles.


Papaya. Throw some papaya into a blender, add water or milk and some honey and you will have a great healthy drink. Many believe adding a few seeds into this will help prevent parasites.

Tomatillos Tomatoes

Left. Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cooking, especially in sauces.

Right. Going clockwise, Coriander, Criollos Tomatoes, Chili Serrano, Plum Tomatoes.

Chile Secos Display

Dried Chiles, used in making salsas and mole.

Chile Secos Jamaica

Left. Died Chiles for sale in the Zaachila Market.

Right. Jamaica, these flower petals are soaked in water for an hour or so and then the petals are removed, ice added and you have drink very similar to Iced Tea.


Above. Cacao, the seeds are used to make chocolate and in making moles.

Chayote Display Colorful green beans

Left. Different types of chayote squash including one with sharp needle like spines..

Right. Colorful green beans. These beans have a tough string in between the pod halves that needs to be removed before cooking.

Jicama Jicama and Carrots

Left. Jicama is usually eaten raw in Mexico although it can be baked or boiled like a potato.

Right. Jicama and carrots with a dip. Mexicans commonly eat jicama with a salsa.

Chepil Hierba Buena

Left. Chepil, also known as chepilin, is used in tamales. It is also used to flavor rice.

Right. Hierba Buena smells and tastes like mint. It's added to soups for flavoring.

epazote huauzontle

Left. Epazote is a herb with a minty flavor often used in Mexican cooking. Frequently it is added to black beans and some moles. It also reduces flatulence.

Right. Huauzontle is sometimes added into the cheese stuffed into a chili relleno. In some parts of Mexico, huauzontle is grounded into a flour to make tortillas.

Medical Plants

arnica camomile

Left. Arnica is used in liniment and ointment preparations for strains, sprains, and bruises.

Right. Camomile tea is great for calming the nerves and helps you go to sleep quicker.


Cuajilote is used to treat respritory ailments. The fruit is boiled and served as a tea, sometimes it is sweetened. The fruit is sometimes eaten. It is also used to treat urinary problems, deafness, headaches and to purify the blood. [1]

vibora and vapuru

Left. Palo de Vibora. Used to cleans kidneys. These wood chips are soaked in water for a few days. The chips are removed before drinking. It doesn't taste bad at all.

Right. Hierba de Vapuru. Smells just like Vapuru. Used for aches and pains such as arthritis. Soak the herb in water overnight. Remove the herb and let the water soak into the places that ache.

Notes and Footnotes

  1. 1. Cuajilote. Biblioteca Digital de la Medicina Tradicional Mexicana. Retrieved 16 April, 2015.